The Cayman Islands Government Office and Celebrate Cayman team have worked tirelessly to put together a fantastic evening of Cayman culture at Durbar Court in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms.
Eric Bush, Cayman Islands Representative to the UK said “We are proud of our heritage, our culture and what we have achieved as a country, and the Cayman Islands Government Office in the UK is pleased to showcase that, in conjunction with Celebrate Cayman, an initiative that supports our strategic objectives in the UK and helps us share the story of Cayman here whilst instilling a greater sense of national pride at home.”
As people in the Cayman Islands woke up to find the Celebrate Cayman logo draped on the front of the Government Administration Building in George Town, a packed reception organised by the Cayman Islands London Office and hosted by The Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin took place at the iconic Durbar Court in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Monday night to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cayman being granted its Coat of Arms by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 May 1958.
Over 400 people including heads of state and senior officials from the UK and other Overseas Territories attended. There was a large representation from the Cayman Islands, Friends of Cayman, Cayman students and businesses from the UK and internationally.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said “The granting of the Coat of Arms for the Cayman Islands and its people was a significant milestone in the history of the Cayman Islands. It signaled a new beginning as we chose to remain British, and was the first in a chain of events along our path to modernity.”
Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson offered his congratulations on the 60th anniversary of the Coat of Arms and underlined the point that the UK Government is still soundly supportive of the Cayman Islands and what they do and stand for.
Thomas Woodcock, CVO DL FSA the Garter Principal King of Arms was then introduced and spoke about the Coat of Arms and the meaning behind each iconic symbol. He also talked about the history of the College of Heralds and its importance. The Heralds are appointed by the British Sovereign and are delegated authority to act on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry as well as the granting of new coats of arms. Garter King of Arms produced two facsimiles of the original warrant of the Coat of Arms which was destroyed in the Government Administration building fire in the 1970’s, this was on display and one will be returned to Cayman.
A short film telling the story behind the Coat of Arms was played and it will be used in future as material for educational and information campaigns. The film includes new and archive footage to showcase the importance of the links between the Cayman Islands and the UK.
The Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin was the last speaker he said “We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the 60 years since her Majesty granted our Coat of Arms. We have worked hard over the past five years to strengthen the ties between our Governments and to seek to break down misunderstandings about the business we do in the Cayman Islands.”
“Despite the recent and most unfortunate vote in the House of Commons, it was truly heartening for me to hear the Foreign Secretary underline the point that the United Kingdom Government is still supportive of the Cayman Islands.”
“In any family, there are disagreements from time to time; however, tonight is an occasion to celebrate our connection and similarities rather than our differences. A celebration of all things Caymanian, our people, food, culture and music.”
Cayman inspired food and beverages were served to bring a real taste of Cayman to the reception. In addition to Cayman inspired canapes and food bowls including Cayman-style beef with rice and beans, Seven Fathoms and Tortuga rums and Caybrew beer as well as swanky was served as a welcome beverage to guests.
Cayman culture was on display throughout the FCO and Durbar Court. A wall of photography showed guests all aspects of life, culture, history and people from the Cayman Islands. In addition, photographs of key milestones from each decade starting at 1958 to 2018 were on display in a dedicated exhibition room to commemorate developments since the Coat of Arms was granted.
Guests were able to touch and feel a variety of Cayman arts and crafts on a display curated by the Cayman Islands National Museum as well as worn on the heads and arms of Caymanian ladies wearing traditional dress complete with hats, bags and fans made from thatch. Samples of Thatch Rope were on display. The Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, the Speaker Hon. McKeeva Bush, and the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ezzard Miller put on a fun, short demonstration of laying thatch rope with masters of thatch rope making Billy Banker and Deal Ebanks overseeing the proceedings.
Swanky Kitchen Band then delivered a live performance and delighted the audience and got guests dancing with their own style of indigenous Caymanian music which traces its roots back to the British Isles. There is no other Caribbean Island that features the fiddle as the centre of its traditional music genre and is therefore uniquely Caymanian.
Alfonso Wright, Executive Chairman, Celebrate Cayman enthused “tonight was a celebration of everything Caymanian, food, culture, music, people. I’m delighted we were able to bring so much to London to share our history and I’m looking forward to the events in the Cayman Islands which will bring everyone together as one in this exciting year-long celebration.”